Alan Forster reads out details of
an heroic stand by Legionnaires in
Mexico to celebrate Camerone Day
Freemason Alan Forster has had quite an interesting life, both
at home and overseas, but meeting him at a reunion of former
British members of the French Foreign Legion near Victoria
Station in central London was quite an experience.
Alan worked for many years at one of the military
headquarters and is a Grand Officer of the British Grand Lodge
in Germany. He now has his own vineyard near Aubanue,
not far from the Legion’s base camp in the Marseilles area and
is heavily involved in French Freemasonry.
He has been asked by his local Province to assist them in
the setting up of two English-speaking Lodges under their
constitution, the National Grand Lodge of France, which
is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.
He served for many years in the French Foreign Legion
with the 3rd REP (Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes),
serving during the Algerian campaign. I, too, joined the
Legion way back in the 1980s, but unlike Alan, they released
me once they discovered that my eyesight was not as good
as I had claimed it to be!
However, this was not before they changed my name. It was
tradition then that all married men had to have a nom de guerre.
The formula was to take the next letter of your first name and
change it . So Bernard became Charles, as Prince Charles was
very much in the news when I enlisted at Fort de Nogent in
Paris. Then they change your surname, keeping the same first
letter. Thus I became Charles Western because I arrived
wearing cowboy boots.
Since Masonry is universal and there are many regimental
or school Lodges, I wanted to know if any British ex-Legionnaires were also Masons and that is how I came to
meet Brother Alan recently near Victoria station.
He was with the Foreign Legion Association of Great
Britain in charge of the annual Camerone Day celebrations.
This event is celebrated wherever Legionaries and ex-Legionnaires are based, as it commemorates their legendary
battle, fought in 1863 in Camerone, Mexico, where 60
Legionnaires fought with over 2,000 Mexicans.
The story of this battle was read by Brother Alan,
followed by the sounding of the Last Post by a drummer
of the Scots Guards.